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Summer Concerts Trigger Turf War

Main Street merchants are divided on whether the popular summer concert series supports local businesses.

The sun is barely up on Wednesday mornings when music lovers begin staking out the best patch of grass for Seal Beach’s free summer concerts Wednesday nights.

But music-lovers aren’t the only ones having turf wars.

Nestled at the base of the pier at Eisenhower Park, the summer concerts series, hosted by the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce, has raised the ire of some Main Street merchants who resent the participation of outside vendors. This week, a handful of merchants lobbied city officials to place a condition on the event that only Main Street or Seal Beach businesses can participate. At Monday’s City Council meeting, chamber officials countered that the summer concerts draw business into Old Town, adding that the businesses protesting the outside vendors are the same that opt not to get involved with chamber events such as the concerts or the annual car show.

“The events do cost money, and it has to come from somewhere,” said Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce President Erik Dreyer-Goldman.

The concerts, which run each Wednesday until the end of this month, draw thousands of people throughout the summer. They are free to the public, and the chamber pays for it by selling sponsorships, advertising and vendor space.

Of the 12-vendors involved in the summer concerts, only two are from outside the chamber, said Dreyer-Goldman. Vendors include a funnel cake booth, a kettle corn booth, and a booth that does decorative feather hair extensions.

“The chamber is the largest event-producing entity in the city,” said Dreyer-Goldman.

“Our events are directly responsible for generating significant revenue for local businesses.”

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Dreyer-Goldman invited Seal Beach merchants to join the chamber in order to have say over how the chamber events are run. He noted that each of the merchants who criticized the summer concerts have chosen not to join the chamber and take part in chamber events.

The suggestion didn’t sit well with Lisa Woodruff, co-owner of on Main Street.

“I don’t think that just because I am not a member, my voice should not be heard. I am not a second-class citizen,” she said. “I just say ‘no’ to having outside merchants on Main Street.”

Woodruff also suggested that the chamber events should do more draw customers in to the businesses on Main Street rather than have them hang out by the pier for the concerts.

“We need to promote events that are going to get people to walk up and down Main Street,’ she added.

Provoked by the feather extension booth operated at the concert by a business from outside the city, several Main Street stylists spoke at the council meeting in opposition to the outside vendors at the concerts.

“We don’t need people from other cities coming to our town and taking our money,” one stylist told the council.

Diana Brunjes, chamber member and manager of on Main Street, said the cost of a booth is worthwhile for Bay Hardware even though they aren’t selling anything at the concerts. At the Bay Hardware booth, they help children build birdhouses. It may not generate instant business, but it helps build relationships with customers and the community, said Brunjes.

Just being there for the community is good for everyone, she said.

While the council didn’t vote on the matter, Mayor Mike Levitt told chamber officials that he would like to the concerts open to Seal Beach vendors only.

TELL US IN THE COMMENTS

Do you think the summer concerts are helpful or harmful to local businesses? What would you do differently, if anything? And which summer concert band has been your favorite so far?

Correction, in an earlier version of this article, the number of concert vendors from outside the chamber was mistaken for the number of vendors outside the city.

Les Shobe August 10, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Robby Armstrong was the best even though the sound was bad.
Erik Dreyer-Goldman August 10, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Correction - Paige - I was mis-quoted above. What I said was that out of the 12 vendors 10 of them were chamber members - not Seal Beach businesses. Les - Robby Armstrong plays this evening. The band you were referring to with the sound issues was another band. The Chamber is very supportive of all local businesses and we have asked the merchants year after year to participate. Ultimately, it is up to them. The question that keeps coming up is why a local merchant would not want to be a member of their local chamber and the community that they sell to. I don't have an answer for that. My door is always open for discussion and we welcome new folks and ideas to participate in the process. Erik Dreyer-Goldman President Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce
Laura Walker Ellsworth August 10, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Last night I met with one of the people who spoke out against the chamber's summer concert series on Monday night at the city council meeting. She had no idea what the chamber was about. Now that she is informed she will be joining the chamber and enjoy the benefits of membership to grow her Main Street business.
Emily Knell August 10, 2011 at 07:23 PM
*****Everett Knell of Health & Life Plans4Less is a Chamber member of Seal Beach and has had a booth at the pier for every single concert, we have family who live IN Seal Beach, but he operates his business from Rossmoor. He's offering Retirement plans to concert goers can learn about making contributions towards their retirement that are Risk free & TAX FREE going in, while it grows & when it's time to cash out. All Tax Free, Nada to Uncle Sam! Plus great health plans for individuals & small businesses. Also, Emily Knell will be there from MAIN STREET REALTORS giving attendees useful information about Real Estate in & around Seal Beach. **For the record, we have not bought any food from the vendors on the pier, kettle corn doesn't work with our diets. We did get Javatini drinks one night. I do want to try the newer Thai On Main restaurant,,I will make it work with the diet! Green Curry sounds interesting.
Emily Knell August 10, 2011 at 07:24 PM
I think the Beatles Tribute band was my favorite so far.
Angel August 10, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Is Lisa Woodruff afraid that someone is going to come and set up hair salon chairs on the grass and offer to style people's hair during the concert. What she and other people complaining need to realize is that Seal Beach is not exactly the most "Hip" town in OC or LA and events like this bring hundreds if not thousands of people to Main St. Many of these visitors fall in love with it's charm while visiting and tend to walk around after the concerts are done. If she is afraid of loosing business she should set up a little space where she can meet and greet people or walk around before or after the show and pass out some info on her salon. It's up to businesses to figure out how they can best take advantage of these influxes of visitors. If you stay inside and sulk about it, well then you miss your chance.
Lisa Woodruff August 11, 2011 at 12:01 AM
For the record, when I started this request to say "no to outside vendors", I had no idea that there was a hair salon or feather extension guy doing business at the summer concert series. It does not affect my business. I have always been concerned about all of Seal Beach businesses & the quality of our town. We have been Chamber members many times in the past 30 years & have been frustrated with the way things are run. Not to say it's not for everyone, it just doesn't work for us. I encourage people to try it & see what it can do for their business & their community, then they can decide for themselves. Why aren't the majority of Old Town Businesses in the Chamber? That is a good question to ponder. My main concern is that Seal Beach businesses (Seal beach as a whole, not just Old Town) should be the only vendors, not just chamber members, as that can be anyone from anywhere who pays the membership fee. Last time I looked, our Chamber was the SEAL BEACH Chamber, not Long Beach or Huntington Beach Chamber. Seal Beach businesses should be their # 1 priority. I am out & about throughout my community, talking to merchants & listening to their concerns & I am trying to voice it to others. ( not inside sulking) Thank you for the forum to do so. I also voice my concerns proudly with my name, not anonymously.
Lisa Woodruff August 11, 2011 at 12:04 AM
When I started this request to say "no to outside vendors", I had no idea that there was a hair salon or feather extension guy doing business at the summer concert series. It started a few years ago , with the car show. How does it help us to have an outside hot dog vendor right next to The Lions Club selling their hot dogs for charity?It does not affect my business at all. I have always been concerned about all of Seal Beach businesses & the quality of our town. We have been Chamber members many times in the past 30 years & have been frustrated with the way things are run. Not to say it's not for everyone, it just doesn't work for us. I encourage people to try it & see what it can do for their business & their community, then they can decide for themselves. Why aren't the majority of Old Town Businesses in the Chamber? That is a good question to ponder. My main concern is that Seal Beach businesses (Seal beach as a whole, not just Old Town) should be the only vendors, not just chamber members, as that can be anyone from anywhere who pays the membership fee. Last time I looked, our Chamber was the SEAL BEACH Chamber, not Long Beach or Huntington Beach Chamber. Seal Beach businesses should be their # 1 priority. I am out & about throughout my community, talking to merchants & listening to their concerns & I am trying to voice it to others. Thank you for the forum to do so.
Seth Eaker August 11, 2011 at 01:06 AM
We are incredibly fortunate to live in a town where our biggest problems are what other towns consider benefits: like too many people at the concert, too much success in our Main Street and lots of citizens who are engaged in healthy community dialogue. I think it is really important to have these discussions in a respectful way, and I for one am thankful that everyone involved has been courteous and pretty positive. That being said, developing, creating and improving events to benefit the entire community takes literally hundreds of volunteer hours, lots of passion and a commitment to give back to the community. I know I will stand on my record and the record of my fellow board members on the Chamber, the Run Seal Beach board and those of the community who come together to create rather than criticize. The Summer Concert series takes cash to produce. The entire Main Street corridor benefits from those nights all year long. The Chamber has made tremendous strides to be a good partner with the City, Run Seal Beach and other non-profits like the Lions, the Seal Beach Animal Care Center and the Rotary. I concur with both Lisa and Erik in the importance regarding the question, "Why aren't more Main Street merchants part of the Chamber?" I have an answer for you: because it is easy not to. There is no "penalty" for not joining. We can't assess a business license fee like the City can. We have to make due with the resources we have. Maybe we should complain less and do more!
Seth Eaker August 11, 2011 at 01:35 AM
Oh, I ran out of space before I could add, that I know I personally have invited more than 20 Main Street merchants to participate, sent out mailings last year and this year, watched posters, emails and communication at City Council, Planning Commission, SB-TV3 all occur encouraging Seal Beach merchants to be vendors, sponsors or participate in any way. I know this, because I personally did much of that work. Undaunted even as Past President, I would continue to encourage people to actually engage the Chamber in a meaningful way. I find it stunning that in the nearly five years I have been part of the Chamber, some local business people still don't seem to "understand" what the Chamber does or its mission. I have over 30 articles that I have written about business, the Chamber and our community in our local press - both print and online. To not "know" how to be a part of the Chamber or its events seems simply ridiculous to me. The fact that you might choose not to be part of it is up to you. As I said at council, "givers get and takers lose." I hope more of us plan to be givers in the coming years.
beergut August 11, 2011 at 05:32 AM
The Sgt. Pepper band although the Robby Armstrong band tonight was very good,and a lot of people dancing. Some of the band's had audio problems with their speakers, there was so much distortion is the audio system theirs or is it provided by the city?
Angel August 11, 2011 at 06:04 AM
I totally see your point. I agree...if there is our local Lyons club selling hot dogs for charity there should not be a fancy hot dog vendor there. However, if there is an event that draws family and children, not every child is going to want a Sheppard's Pie from one of our Pubs or sea food from one of our local restaurants so in that case I see the need for a Cotton Candy vendor or a Pizza guy. This is when you hope that a local business would step up to fill that void. This would be something that the Chamber could encourage in the community and probably a great way to get more people to join. After all, it's not all about the Chamber, its about Seal Beach.
Paige Austin August 11, 2011 at 08:07 AM
I liked today's band a lot, too. I am fortunate to hear all of them from my house. Word is that the U2 cover band closing out the season on Aug. 31 is the best of the bunch. I won't get a feather extension, but I might just buy some kettle corn and stake out a patch of grass.
Lisa Woodruff August 11, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Slice of New York Pizza, Z Pizza, El Burrito Jr., Cold Stone, Sweet Jills, etc. are right across the street. So there is no void to fill. I'm sure they'd love to have the concert goers hop on over for a bit to eat. Most pubs have hamburgers, fish sticks & kids menus. All their food is available to go. Sure it'd be nice if they had booths on the grass, but logistically, if your business is not set up to be a mobile food vendor, it's a lot more complicated than it appears. There's health codes, special licensing, appropriate booths, equipment, etc. I agree with you, it's about Seal Beach, that's my point exactly. I have nothing against the Chamber at all. I am just fighting for all the Seal Beach merchants.
Lisa Woodruff August 11, 2011 at 03:12 PM
No one is against the concert series, just out of town vendors selling things at Eisenhower park. No one is against the chamber either.
Erik Dreyer-Goldman August 11, 2011 at 04:21 PM
The bands provide their own audio systems.
Angel August 11, 2011 at 07:13 PM
Completely agree with you on those restaurants Lisa but most people aren't going to walk up while the bands are playing. If these businesses want to reap some of the benefits they need to put in some leg work into it though. Well they may not be able to set up food stations they can have someone walk down and pass out coupons to the concert goers and give them a reason to walk up after the event. If I was handed a coupon I'd walk over after the show and I know a lot of people would too. Then the businesses can reap the benefits instead of crying fowl. We are entrepreneurs right?
Emily Knell August 12, 2011 at 05:58 PM
I spoke to the funnel cake people who were very informative in telling me that contrary to my own belief, funnel cake is actually not so evil on the calorie & fat level as I had thought. With fresh strawberries / bananas & no extra "strawberry glaze" it may not be a total diet killer. I still didn't buy one,,,maybe next week.
Paige Austin August 12, 2011 at 06:14 PM
Hahaa. That is just what I need - an excuse to eat funnel cake! Thanks for sharing.

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